Dry. 90-95ºF. Not drafty. Well-ventilated. Easily accessible for humans. Totally predator-proof.
These are words that get tossed around a lot when talking about chick brooders, and there’s a reason! Chicks are fragile and if even one of these areas is lacking, you will know because some of your chicks will be quiet, lethargic, and, possibly, dead. But the good news is that there are good brooder models out there. Judah used this model as his inspiration, changing a few things like adding a plywood floor and a metal roof that opens in two sections.
We needed space for 200 chicks, so about 100 square feet. We made it 8’x12′ and originally planned on putting it on concrete blocks or a trailer so it would be off the ground and harder for predators to get to. However, we ended up keeping it right where we built it and it turned out sturdy enough to keep predators out even though it’s just sitting on the ground.
Although we could have put the plywood sides on the outside of the studs to make it look nicer, we opted to put them inside to make for easier cleaning. And yes, we were working on the brooder late into the night. We were some very tired people…
It’s interesting to watch Judah build this brooder and also watch him build our house (on the left in this picture). Our mindset about the house is that we should build it as well as we possibly can, using quality materials and expecting it to last. Our mindset about building farm structures like this brooder (and later, chicken shelters) is that it doesn’t have to be pretty or expensive – it just has to be good enough to serve the purpose. So Judah didn’t spend an excessive amount of time trying to get the brooder perfectly square – it’s not square, in fact. But the chicks don’t mind because they’re still dry, whether the brooder is square or not and whether we used some fancy roofing or just screwed on roofing metal scraps. 🙂
The supports used to prop up the roof just lay on the ground when they’re not being used – they’re not attached. And note the handles on each side of the roof – those are super handy because the roof is heavy. We don’t have to tie the roof down or anything (to keep coons out or the wind from blowing it open) because of the heavy roof!
One thing I might change if we made a second brooder is to make it a little taller. I have to work with the bedding and occasionally step inside to do something, and it’s not too comfortable to crouch that low. Also, once when I had the roof open I found a chick perched up on the edge, which would be remedied by taller walls.
In all, I love this design so far! The chicks have been living in the brooder for almost two weeks and they’re happy.
P.S. If you’re on Instagram, check our page out! I post pictures of farm happenings almost daily on there. 🙂